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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Welcome Stephanie Henderson

June 19, 2019

Photo of Stephanie Henderson

The AOS department would like to give a warm welcome our newest faculty member, Assistant Professor Stephanie Henderson. We are looking forward to having her as a member of the AOS team, both as a researcher and a teacher.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m going to be a bit transparent. I was born in Colombia, South America, where I lived for the first ten years of my life before moving to a small corn-surrounded town in Indiana. I was raised by hard-working (and amazing, if I’m so frank) factory worker parents and I never thought I would become a university professor and scientist. Not being familiar with the world of research and academia, it simply never crossed my mind as an option despite my interest in science (Indiana gets some pretty cool storms!).

I am the product of a lot of support. Support from family and friends. Support from professors who saw something in me, motivated me to go to grad school (grad school? What’s that?), and gave me a chance and the opportunities that led me to where I am today. Professors play a significant role in shaping the future of others, and I’m incredibly excited to have this opportunity.

What research projects are you currently working on?

My current research primarily examines the relationship between tropical heating and the extratropical circulation. One of my current projects uses linear inverse modeling (LIM) to better understand how tropical sources of heating, such as the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), lead to growth in the Pacific-North American (PNA) pattern. I am also using linear inverse modeling to better understand how the extratropical circulation impacts the MJO. Other current projects include understanding biases in the simulation of MJO teleconnections in General Circulation Models (GCMs) and examining the relationship between atmospheric blocking and Greenland precipitation.

What do you find exciting about beginning a career in AOS?

Before beginning my faculty appointment, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Climatic Research (CCR). Getting to know the AOS department during my postdoc is what led me to want to join AOS as faculty. A key reason is the people. I am incredibly excited to be a part of a faculty that is so inspired to move research forward and passionate about seeing students excel. I am excited to continue to work with research scientists in SSEC and CCR and to further those connections. I am also greatly looking forward to teaching and hope to inspire students to pursue their curiosities, as a physics professor once did for me.

What courses are you interested in teaching?

I am interested in teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses. Some specific courses are undergraduate dynamics, which I will be teaching this fall (AOS 310), climatological analysis (AOS 575), and tropical meteorology (AOS 522). I also want to develop my own course that focuses on sub-seasonal to seasonal variability, the interactions that occur across these different timescales, and what this means for predictability.

In your application, you highlighted your commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive department. What kinds of things do you look forward to doing to promote diversity and inclusion in AOS?

Diversity brings creativity and different perspectives, both which greatly benefit research and learning. I have always viewed diversity as strength, and I am fully committed to continuing the department’s efforts to reflect the wide diversity of our country in our own department. I will work to make AOS a welcoming and safe environment for all students, faculty, and staff, as I was able to work towards as a postdoc in the Nelson Institute’s WIN (Welcoming and Inclusive Nelson) committee. As a minority myself, I also hope to inspire other women and minorities to pursue their dreams, chase their curiosities, and become leaders.